Grad School Lesson #3: Mentors are EVERYTHING


Hear me with both ears when I say this, get some mentors. More than one. More than two. Very senior faculty mentors are great, they hold the history of your field, the department, the school, etc… They speak from experience. Semi-senior faculty are great, they are on committees, actively conferencing and publishing, they write grants but they might not get them all. They can teach you things. Junior faculty are great, especially when they are hungry. They graduated more recently and you can learn from their successes and failures. It might also be great to find a few mentors outside of academia, but in related fields. They can help you keep a pulse on the rest of the world and how your work might be and stay relevant. Then you have your peer mentors. Postdocs are awesome because they have done what you want to do, but they are fresh! They are right in the midst of job searches and discovering academia two to three steps ahead of you. Older grad students are great mentors for similar reasons. Be sure to listen to faculty opinions of other grad students to help choose better grad student peer-mentors. So bottom-line, get you some mentors!